Work to construct a giant steel sculpture of a Lancaster Bomber on the Lincolnshire and Nottinghamshire border is underway thanks to corporate and public donations, but funds are still needed to complete the project in 2019.
The life-size sculpture, ‘On Freedom’s Wings’, is set to become an iconic national landmark, rivalling the Angel of the North in both size and status.
The vision has been brought to life by The Bomber County Gateway Trust – a group of passionate Lincolnshire-based people whose sole aim is to finance and build the structure – to mark the historic link that Lincolnshire and Nottinghamshire shared with RAF Bomber Command during the Second World War.
The design is a representation of an Avro Lancaster Bomber and will be erected on high ground just off the A46 at Norton Disney in Lincolnshire, visible to an estimated 34,000 motorists every day.
Although intended to be a reminder of all Bomber Command crews, one such aircraft, Lancaster R5689 (VN-N), crashed near to the site on its way home from a mission over the Baltic Sea in September 1942 and five members of its seven-strong crew perished. VN-N was also the most photographed Lancaster of the war and therefore it was a fitting choice as the basis of the landmark to signify the Lincolnshire link to war-time aviation.
The huge landmark which is 26 metres long with a wingspan of 31 metres, will be mounted on a steel frame more than 15 metres above ground level. It will appear to be in flight over the horizon, heading ‘home’ towards RAF Swinderby where the Lancaster was based, about 3km away.
To date, the excavation and concrete foundations have been completed. The next stage is to erect the steel framework in spring this year (2019).
To complete the project, at least £150,000 is still needed. Members of the public and businesses are being asked to donate what they can to what will become a magnificent national landmark that serves as a reminder of all those who served.
Ken Sadler, trustee and project director of The Bomber County Gateway Trust, said: “This will hopefully be a very special landmark with nothing else like it in the East Midlands. This area was so significant in the RAF’s history and it seems everyone feels it’s high time that the link between the county and the RAF is properly recognised. With such a prominent, elevated position, it will be seen by so many people on a daily basis, hopefully evoking pride and respect of our aviation heritage.
“It has been an incredible journey to get this far – we are extremely grateful to everyone who has donated and to the companies who have offered their services, skills and materials to assist in getting this project off the ground. However, we still need a considerable amount of money to complete the project and until we have raised those funds, works cannot progress. We are looking for both monetary donations and more engineering partners.
“An auction is also being held at Hemswell Court on 22nd May 2019, and we are appealing for people to donate special items to auction off for fundraising. We already have artwork prints by artist Tim O’Brien depicting two Lancaster bombers, signed by ‘The Last British Dambuster’, George “Johnny” Johnson.”
George “Johnny” Johnson MBE, DFM, joined the RAF in 1940 and became a crew member of Lancasters in 97 and 617 Squadrons. He said: “The Lancaster was, in my opinion, the finest heavy bomber of World War Two. This sculpture will be recognised as a symbol of sacrifice made by nearly 58,000 men and women who served with Bomber Command.
“It will represent the pivotal role which the County of Lincolnshire played in the Second World War. I hope it means as much to the people of Lincolnshire and Nottinghamshire as it does to me.”
Donations are welcome via JustGiving: https://www.justgiving.com/crowdfunding/bombercountygateway